Rosemary Clooney dies at 74

Jun 30, 2002 by Ian Evans

Rosemary Clooney, who topped the charts in the 1950s with hits like “Come On-A My House” and “Mambo Italiano”, died on Saturday night due to complications from lung cancer. She was 74.

Besides her successful singing career, Clooney was also an actress best known for her role in the 1954 classic White Christmas. In recent years, she had a recurring role on ER opposite nephew George Clooney, a role that earned her an Emmy nomination.

Her first big break was in 1945, when she and younger sister Betty auditoned for a job singing on the radio. The two later toured as The Clooney Sisters, but when Betty decided to quit Rosemary kept climbing higher.

In 1953, she married actor Jose Ferrer and the couple had five children in just seven years while Clooney continued to work on her CBS show. They divorced in 1961, reconciled, and divorced again in 1967.

Clooney began fighting an addiction to painkillers and was at one time hospitalized for drug-induced psychosis. In 1976 she came out of her semi-retirement and did a reunion tour with Bing Crosby. She received a special lifetime Grammy award this year.

She had been a longtime smoker and in January she entered the Mayo Clinic to remove part of her left lung. Her recovery was long and she was released from hospital in May only to reenter earlier this month.

Clooney is survived by her children — Miguel, Maria, Gabriel, Monsita and Rafael — her husband, Dante Di Paolo, and her grandchildren.